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Six Year Review of the Husker Offense

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In college, I had a joke with a friend. Everyone in the stadium would clap with a three-yard play on 1st and 10. If the defense gives up just two more three-yard plays it is 4th and 1. The offense is looking at two plays where it can either throw or run. Football in 2020 has gotten more sophisticated. Metrics, such as Expected Points Added (EPA), can give us an estimate on how much each play contributed to the offense or defense scoring next. The simplest way to calculate EPA is by taking the average of points scored on a drive for a given down, distance, and field position both before and after the play. The difference in these values is the EPA. If the offense “wins” the play, the EPA is positive. If the defense “wins” the play, EPA is negative. For this analysis, I used the EPA value as calculated from the cfbscrapR package.
One way of judging the success of a team over time can be to look at their cumulative EPA (cEPA). Plotting this value can allow us to easily see when the offe…